Learning exchanges were launched on 24th July 2018 in Niger, as a priority activity in the second year of GNDR’s Institutionalising Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) project, giving GNDR members from Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger the opportunity to learn more about a community initiative in CBDRM: a case study located 114 km away from the capital, Niamey.
In 1998, the ADPE Bonferey group decided to protect and restore the Féri-Féri Hill and its slopes, whose runoff waters reached the neighbouring quarter of the urban municipality of Tillabéri. The main objective of rehabilitating 77 hectares of stony soil seemed ambitious at the time, but today the group has successfully achieved its goal of planting 45,000 trees in the space of two decades.Selected amongst the best 25 case studies of CBDRM in Africa following a call for applications as part of the Institutionalising Sustainable CBDRM project, this community project – led by ADPE Bonferey – is a prime example of optimal management of disaster risk.
With 10 hectares of forest crescents (demi-lunes forestières in French) and 10,000 meters of stone barriers, the rehabilitated perimeter has enabled the local community to tackle the environmental issues in the area, all the while contributing to the creation of “green” jobs thanks to the integrated management of agro-sylvo pastoral resources and activities.In addition to the revenues generated by their tree nursery, the Bonferey group is selling tonnes of dry straw each year. This supports local farmers, who face difficulties feeding their cattle.The learning exchange – which was organised by GNDR and brought together DRR practitioners from Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger – emphasised that the engagement and determination of local communities lay behind the sustainability of this initiative.
So far, the group has managed to fence 40 of the 77 hectares, but needs technical support to make this innovative initiative in environmental protection beneficial in economic terms. This would involve enabling revenue-generating activities to consolidate the involvement of women and youth, both of whom have been fully engaged in the process to date.
The exchanges bore witness to a number of difficulties such as the absence of water sources, the obsolescence of anti-erosion activities and the inadequacy of the existing fence.
This local organisation has worked hard for 20 years in the restauration of the Féri-Féri Hill and has a clear vision of community-based disaster risk management. However, it needs both support and the opportunity to communicate its initiative to a wider audience, as this case study deserves to be institutionalised at national level. Indeed, all such local initiatives that represent innovative responses to extreme climate situations should be integrated in DRR national policies. This fact has been understood by the government of Niger, which in 2016 set up a Ministry of Humanitarian Action and Disaster Management. The minister responsible, Laouan Magagi, whom we met during our exchange, said: “Civil society organisations and the private sector are key partners that were included in our national platform for DRR”.
In a country that has lost 40 billion dollars per year for the past 40 years, the government is determined to provide an effective answer to extreme climate disasters, and seems to be aware of the role that authorities should play in order to encourage and make sustainable the efforts of local communities.
Written by Ibra Cassis